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Women managing the household - the 'mental load'

(41 Posts)
moutonfou Mon 29-May-17 09:49:21

Just read this Guardian article with interest link

TLDR: it's not about how much a man helps in the house, it's about how women are almost always in charge of the household - expected to know what needs doing/paying/renewing/cancelling and when and either to do it or direct their partner to do it. The author calls it a 'mental load' which men don't have to put up with - they wipe a toilet and feel satisfied they are contributing.

It really struck a chord with me, especially the bit where the tidying of a simple table generates a whole list of additional tasks, but all the man sees is that a table has been tidied. I am totally in this position - always feel like I am forgetting something and it's on me if anything isn't done, always mystified when DH claims completely sincerely that he does even near to how much I do. I always thought I had taken on the role myself - but this made me doubt that.

Thoughts?

NoSquirrels Mon 29-May-17 09:55:22

Read this the other day and sent it straight to my DH! It's an awesome explanation of wifework, with pictures. Just brilliant.

Some of the Grauniad comments below though shockconfused

ladyballs Mon 29-May-17 09:55:32

I absolutely agree. My former husband would always ask me where to find x, instead of looking for it his damn self. Noticing we were running out of milk and other essentials. And expecting me to manage the family social diary because his brain was presumably full of important manly business. I see it played out even more in the lives of friends who have children.

PippaFawcett Mon 29-May-17 10:06:00

There was an animation on here the other day about just this issue. And it really struck a chord with me, I have a DH who gets stuck in and would consider himself as doing half the load. Which isn't true, but that is another issue. But after I watched the animation I realised I am mentally exhausted and I can barely cope with the load I am carrying. Eg, DS wet the bed the other day and announced it just as we were all getting up for the day for work/school and I wanted to scream/cry/give up not because I minded him wetting the bed (and I didn't show him how I felt) but because it was yet another thing I was going to have to sort out. He hasn't done it for years so no protector sheet on, so it was mattress scrub/duvet wash/sheet wash etc all on top of the workload of an average day working/being a mother. I seem to manage day to day but the curve balls like this seem to throw me off because I don't have anymore capacity.

I gave up doing things like Christmas cards/thank you notes (the DC will thank everyone in person) and presents for DH's family because I thought if he wants to send them, he will. Sometimes I remind him that it is DNieces birthday coming up but that is it. I have been doing this for years and I am over the embarrassment of accepting gifts from his family for our DC and not always giving back, it reflects on him, not me. Even so the other day he said 'Did we send xx a present for his 21st?' I replied 'I don't know, did you?' And I think he took the point. And no, we hadn't sent anything for his 21st, DH will probably give him some money when he sees him but I don't get worked up about it anymore. I am looking for other tasks to drop too.

PippaFawcett Mon 29-May-17 10:08:10

I don't send Christmas cards/thank you notes to anyone, not just DH's family. I used to dutifully sit and write down each and every gift the DC received so I could do a personal thank you, then I noticed I wasn't watching and enjoying them opening their presents like DH was so I stopped!

LoisWilkersonsLastNerve Mon 29-May-17 10:09:26

I saw this and it definitely rings true especially the part about if we don't do things, everyone suffers so how do we change things? My dh works double the hours I do so naturally I'm not expecting a large physical contribution but taking some mental load? Yes!

Loopytiles Mon 29-May-17 10:12:30

I shared the cartoon with my DH who still maintained he shares the "mental load". which is bollocks IMOz

ChocChocPorridge Mon 29-May-17 10:20:11

Fuck. Don't read the comments. I don't know why I scrolled down. Filled with men who are apparently paragons of cleanliness/suggest that you just don't bother cleaning/women don't want to let go of the reins/women have too high standards

LoisWilkersonsLastNerve Mon 29-May-17 10:27:24

I've decided that after taking complete charge of booking our holiday, getting insurance etc, I'm not going to take anything to do with dh's packing. No reminder to buy pants or prompts to check what needs washed etc. It will be interesting to see who gets the blame if he is rushing around last minute. Has anyone else heard men, and women do that Good Wife thing? Its perceived that X is great because she keeps the house lovely, looks after her man <boak> he can't cope without her....Y isn't a Good Wife she forgot his mothers birthday etc etc. Really irks me.

HopeClearwater Mon 29-May-17 10:43:51

Thanks for the link OP.
Some of those comments are infuriating!

MilesHuntsWig Mon 29-May-17 10:53:25

My DH read it and proposed we have a discussion to divide stuff more fairly, it obviously struck a chord and communicated this more effectively than I've managed to before. I'm intrigued to see the next one on emotional load...

TheFifthKey Mon 29-May-17 10:56:28

I can honestly say single parenting is easier than taking all the mental load in a marriage. Only having to organise/please yourself is so liberating - I'd find it hard to live with a man again to be honest.

LBOCS2 Mon 29-May-17 11:12:16

My DM felt like that too TheFifth - I asked her if she'd ever live with anyone again (after 15 years of being single-ish) and her answer was an emphatic no.

Actually, I feel very lucky having looked through that cartoon. Although the table thing rings true (as Mr LBOCS doesn't actually seem to see mess) he really does take on the mental load despite working more than full time hours. I think it comes from his having been a full time single parent (as it were) before we met. Which just goes to show that men are perfectly capable of doing the mental heavy lifting, they just choose not to in a large number of circumstances.

sticklebrix Mon 29-May-17 12:19:16

I can well believe that FifthKey.

Elendon Mon 29-May-17 14:35:05

My ex also left the mental load to me. It was draining and we had a child with SEN as well as two other children.

I was being way over reacting when I insisted that our youngest be taken to A&E because of a fall on his watch, turned out he had fractured his collar bone, but it was all left for me to sort this out after. I've just heard from my daughter that one of his son's from his new relationship fell and was taken straight away to A&E, without question or hesitation. That sums it up for me.

Elendon Mon 29-May-17 14:38:31

And yes to what TheFifthKey wrote. So much easier now we're divorced. Though things still rumble, I'm never putting trust into a man again.

My ex's current situation won't last, it goes against the grain of his being, but he does need a roof over his head, so will be compliant for now. However, he will not like it.

CherryMintVanilla Mon 29-May-17 20:38:50

I couldn't say it out loud because it would sound crazy, but the moment I decided to dump my ex was when he was in the supermarket, rustling a packet of crisps next to the phone because I didn't specify whether I wanted the 6 pack or the 12 pack. I don't eat crisps, they were for him! It had been his 2nd/3rd call even though I sent him with a list. He knew I was busy. He had a job with a lot of responsibility, he wasn't a moron, but it was like his brain switched off for anything domestic. This comic explains the exhaustion of it all wonderfully.

BlahBlahBlahEtc Mon 29-May-17 20:48:27

I do EVERYTHING in my house. The finances and bills to the food and shopping to child care and cleaning.
mug

deydododatdodontdeydo Tue 30-May-17 20:40:33

I do EVERYTHING in my house. The finances and bills to the food and shopping to child care and cleaning.

I'm wondering how this became a thing. My grandparent's generation the man (head of the house) did all the finances and bills.
I don't think my grandmother even had a bank account.
And that's seen as controlling and depriving us of our financial freedom.
But now (in some cases) the roles have reversed!
Fifty years ago your DH wouldn't be letting you do all the finances and bills, so why can't he do at least half of it now?

CherryMintVanilla Wed 31-May-17 12:53:23

I'm wondering how this became a thing. My grandparent's generation the man (head of the house) did all the finances and bills.

Equality, ironically, or rather a minor branch from the warped tree of "equality" that gleeful tossers herald when there is video footage of a woman getting punched in the face.

"Ladies, you can do have it all! And leave your poor cocklodgers alone, they're on a really difficult level of Injustice 2 right now."

VoidoidDash Wed 31-May-17 16:16:58

I think women contribute to this being 'a thing'. Any thread with a hint of sahm v wohms & working mums will berate sahm's about how household admin & the mental load is something they do in 5 mins each month. We tend to judge others harshest on what we judge ourselves harshest on. Often men don't even need to do the work of putting women in their place as women do it all the time anyways.

DixieChick77 Wed 31-May-17 17:25:10

Often men don't even need to do the work of putting women in their place as women do it all the time anyways.

The beauty of immersion in a patriarchal society and internalized misogyny.

The other day (can't give much detail of the event) I had to listen to a rape victim say "But it's the victims of false accusations I really feel for." It was gross. It felt like she was so close to getting patted on the head for being such a good girl.

VoidoidDash Wed 31-May-17 18:38:54

Yep overheard a woman in the gym going on about girls these days putting it about behind their husbands backs then crying rape.

The sahm/wohms bugs me so much because most either side don't have a choice(especially world over) & it doesn't make them less of a woman

SadlyNotNormal Sat 03-Jun-17 07:48:23

I have had conversations with DH about how I manage the household and he just doesn't seem to understand the mental load / work in basically being a (household) project manager. In order for him to do chores, I have to leave him with a list, which may or may not get done depending on his other priorities. Lucky me.

I was raised very much to be the good girl, to do all the housework / ironing etc, DH is adamant that my parents treated me like Cinderella / a slave when I lived at home. I do have one coping mechanism though, which is to feign stupidity / ignorance when it comes to certain things, cooking being one. DH tells me I 'cook like a student' which means he tends to cook more. He cleans like a student, so I think we're even.

Itscurtainsforyou Sat 03-Jun-17 08:08:07

I love this - I've been trying to explain it for years smile

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